Friday, September 07, 2007

Penang again

I don't seem to be doing very well with the blog this trip. How long since the last time I updated? Oh, well. When I have the pictures to show you as well it will make more sense anyway. And I'll only tell you the interesting bits.

We had a few days on the east coast, three of them on an island and one in Kuala Terengganu. Actually that was where we intended to go from KL, but couldn't because of Merdeka, a few bus accidents and scandals, and the resulting fewer number of buses and greater numbers of travellers. All the buses were full, so we came to Penang first. After Merdaka we flew to Kuala Teranggenu by Firefly, a new little airline, and went from there to Kapas Island.

The island was lovely, as usual, and we snorkelled, and rested, and did not eat as much as usual, because the island food was, as usual, really sub-standard compared to food on the mainland. (I do not know why this is so, especially considering the mainland is just 15 minutes away by boat, but it seems to be a rule here. Perhaps it is just because if you are in paradise there has to be a snake, and in this case, the snake is the food.)

There were lots of monitor lizards (but not snakes) and I got some good pictures, I think. Monitor lizards never fail to amuse me, especially when they run. Their legs go all over the place. The island lizards did not run much, however. I think they have become complacent. It felt a bit Jurassic Park-ish when one went wandering down on the beach and peered out to sea, like it was planning the eventual takeover of the mainland.

I learned two interesting things while we were on the island. One is that swallows like a dip in a swimming pool as much as anybody. At the first place we stayed (because our favourite place was full) there was a little swimming pool, for kids. In the late afternoon The Man and I were sitting in the restaurant looking over the pool when some swallows started circling round, swooping low, doing a little plop! into the pool, and swooping up again. They did this over and over. At first I thought they were trying to catch insects near the water surface, but there were no insects, and they were definitely dunking themselves on purpose. That was really fun to watch. I tried to take pictures, but I am not sure whether they really worked.

The other thing I learned is that when you hear something crashing down the jungle behind your bungalow, if there is cursing it is a person, and if there is no cursing it is a monitor lizard. Monitor lizards are very unsubtle in the way they move around the jungle.

Kapas has the biggest bats I have ever seen, but I knew that already, from last year.

Back in Penang now we are staying in our usual (favourite, cheap) hotel, which has lovely big rooms, air conditioning and ceiling fan, and hot and cold running water (not always at the same time). We got back here yesterday, and are catching a bus tomorrow back to KL, where we have five (I think) more days before flying back to Japan. It all seems to have happened too fast, and I am not ready. I am especially not ready to give up the food, although I am ready to give up the traffic. I like most things about Malaysia, but there are three things I do not like so much. Traffic is one of them.

But I will tell you about the other two later. Right now I have to pick up my washing.


Pkchukiss said...

Traffic in Malaysia isn't too bad, until you hit the capital. My cousin drove me around when me and my mum were visiting, and we marveled at the long queues at the highway exit toll plazas (I think it was the Jalan Duta exit). It had ten lanes each way, and they all had queues.

It was then you realise how lax the local government is on old cars. They belch thick dark grey smoke right in front of you, and when you try to peer out of your windscreen, those cars will look as if they're on fire... without the flames.

It's cool in a way because living in Singapore means these cars a social taboo. People won't hesitate to write into the newspapers complaining about these cars!

lynnylchan said...

My non-KL Malaysian friends love telling me how the speed with which new roads are built totally messes up their navigation each time they visit. My parents' favourite weekend activity when they're driving to places is the "I wonder where this new highway will lead out to" guessing game.

It seems the number of cars increases at the same pace as the road-building, so the jams never ease.